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At the Rink: Blues at Oilers

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers are keeping defenseman Jeff Petry out of the lineup against the St. Louis Blues at Rexall Place on Saturday.

Edmonton is expected to trade Petry if unable to sign him to a contract extension prior to the NHL Trade Deadline at 3 p.m. ET on Monday.

Petry, 27, will become an unrestricted free agent July 1 if unsigned.

“He’s not playing tonight,” Oilers coach Todd Nelson said. “It’s a management decision. Jordan Oesterle will go in for him; he played well his first game and we want to see him again.”

Petry has scored four goals and 11 assists in 59 games for Edmonton (18-34-10) this season. He was selected by Edmonton in the second round (No. 45 overall) in the 2006 NHL Draft and has played 295 games over five seasons for the Oilers. Petry was not made available to the media Saturday morning.

“The guy we’re inserting in for [Petry] has a similar style,” Nelson said. “Jeff is a good skater, he’s rangy, and Jordan is the same type of player. Jeff eats a lot of minutes, but it gives a lot of opportunity for other guys to eat more minutes and show what they can do.”

St. Louis (39-18-4) won the previous two games against the Oilers this season and have nine victories in their past 10 games against Edmonton.

“They just went into Minnesota and beat one of the hottest teams in the league, so we’re not underestimating them,” Blues center Paul Stastny said. “Our coaches do a good job of preparing us for teams, so there are no surprises. They have been playing a lot better of late. It might be because there is less pressure on them and they just go out there to play. They are creative and since Nelson has taken over, they are playing better, because they are playing for jobs. It’s always tough playing against teams like that.”

St. Louis ended a two-game losing streak Thursday with a 2-1 shootout win against the Winnipeg Jets. Their game against Edmonton is the second of a five-game road trip.

“I think when you come off a game like Winnipeg which was a high, high level physical playoff-type game, and now you’re going to play more of a positional, skating game sometimes you can get trapped into that [complacency],” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “But I think the players recognize with what’s at stake, it doesn’t matter the opponent anymore. If we’re preparing for Edmonton, in less than 24 hours we have to prepare for Vancouver. I think you just prepare to play your game and play it as well as you can.”

Edmonton is 11-12-3 with Nelson exclusively as coach. He co-coached the team for five games with general manager Craig MacTavish (0-3-2) following Dallas Eakins firing on Dec. 15.

“Edmonton have changed a lot, I don’t want to say they’re not fun to play against, but they don’t give you the inside ice that you used to get because of their hard-pursuit game,” Hitchcock said. “They know when to shut down defensively and keep you to the outside, so you don’t get the second or third opportunity from them trying to really play physical. You’re going to have to be very patient in the offensive zone and smart, because if you force it, you’re going to en end up turning the puck over and they have a lot of speed to come at you.”

Goaltender Ben Scrivens will start for Edmonton; Brian Elliott will start in goal for St. Louis.

Here are the projected lineups:


Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Dmitrij Jaskin - Paul Stastny - Patrik Berglund

Steve Ott - Marcel Goc - Ryan Reaves

Carl Gunnarsson - Alex Pietrangelo

Petteri Lindbohm - Jay Bouwmeester

Barret JackmanIan Cole

Brian Elliott

Jake Allen

Scratched: Chris Butler, Joakim Lindstrom, Chris Porter

Injured: Kevin Shattenkirk (abdomen)


Benoit Pouliot - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Teddy Purcell - Derek RoyNail Yakupov

Ryan HamiltonMatt HendricksIiro Pakarinen

Luke GazdicBoyd Gordon - Rob Klinkhammer

Oscar Klefbom - Justin Schultz

Martin Marincin - Mark Fayne

Jordan Oesterle - Andrew Ference

Ben Scrivens

Richard Bachman

Scratched: Keith Aulie, Matt Fraser, Jeff Petry

Injured: Tyler Pitlick (lacerated spleen), Taylor Hall (foot), Nikita Nikitin (shoulder), Viktor Fasth (knee), Anton Lander (shoulder).

Status report: Bouwmeester is playing his 900th NHL game. … Oesterle made his NHL debut last Saturday in a 2-1 loss against the Anaheim Ducks. … Yakupov returns to the Oilers lineup after missing one game with a groin injury.

Who’s hot: Eberle has six assists in his past five games. He had two assists in a 2-1 win against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. … Tarasenko has two goals and three assists in his past four games. ... Pouliot scored two goals in the win against Minnesota on Tuesday.

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